"A Cartoon Story"
By John Pirillo
Most kids his age were out zapping flowers and angry birds, tweaking Mario's mustache, or daring a Halo jump on their game machines or handhelds. But him? No, not really. He was too busy trying to make a living as a part time janitor, servicing the needs of three different girlfriends, only two of whom were real, and none of which were the one he was in love with. Or at least that's what he thought when they weren't around. However, when they were around, his intellect fell into his pants, along with all other working parts of his brain.
He wasn't depraved or a horn dog, turnt, bopping, slung up, nor was he a juanish kind of person seeking relationship after relationship. He just happened to be the kind of guy that certain girls were attracted to. In this case two real ones and the other...a cartoon. Not a piece of paper, or TV one that he had to read or watch...though he did do that...a lot...but a real, living breathing cartoon that just happened to be the sexiest girl alive, hotter than a stick of dynamite, and able to blow his mind in a single bound. In other words, she was perfect. For him. He should know. Because he had made her. Or at least she had made him think so at first, until he really got to know her, and then everything went turnaround drone hellfire ballistic.
Cartoon was the Princess of a world of cartoons. Of course, to themselves, they were as real as he was to his fellow planetary humans, but they to us were of a race of light and substance that only someone like Albert Einstein or Steven Hawking would or could understand.
"Earth base to Johnny. Come in."
His mind fell from heaven to heaven. Thoughts raced from the past to the present where Cartoon sat opposite him in Denny's sipping at a huge milkshake, sucking it down like it was caught in an oceanic whirlpool. "Hi." He said.
She twinkled at him. Literally. Not so as anyone else could see it. She'd gotten better at hiding her cartoonish nature. What with Lady Clairol, lots of pancake carefully applied, and a heavy generation of non-see through clothing so her neon nature wasn't so readily visible, though she had to be careful about how she bent or turned, or parts of her clothing would flash someone if happened to be looking that way.
He had to smile because he'd seen lots of people shake their heads after such a thing, wondering if they'd just lost their mind for a moment. He didn't care. She was a good person, even if a bit showy. He grinned.
"What you grinning about?"
"Oh."She brightened. Literally.
I frantically made the tune it down gesture and she dimmed, but not before half the place had lit up like a Christmas Candle. People began to turn to look our way, but since she was back to normal, they all began assuming it was just a truck or car that had swung past the huge glass windows of our restaurant. And to help things out, a huge Raley's Supermarket truck swung past, its huge headlights on high, lighting the interior of the restaurant up even brighter still.
I sighed with relief, and then gave her a scalding look.
She giggled like a school girl caught with her hand in a bag of cookies.
I shook my head. No use. I could never stay mad at her.
"Okay. Okay. I'm not mad." I muttered angrily.
She slipped a bronzed hand over mine. It was holding a fork with which I had been eating a blackberry pie mounded with vanilla ice cream. Whole reason I came to Denny's. Didn't really like much else they ruined. They used to be a high quality restaurant, but these days they were just the fast food of sit downs.
"You've got to come off high alert sometime, Johnny." She teased me, squeezing my hand warmly.
I sighed. She was right. When I wasn't busy trying to protect her from visibility to the whole world, I was turning into some kind of comic book freak. And I don't mean just reading comic books all the time and holing up in my bathroom or bedroom. No, the real thing. A comic book freak. Able to bound three stories one day without breaking a sweat, stretching my right hand out for candy a mile away, turning invisible, manifesting a wicked sword, turning translucent, firing up and blasting away. You name it. Whatever comic book I held, I became the hero of it, or a reasonable fact simile.
Unfortunately, the reverse was also true. When I had a comic book, its villains would sometimes come to life and I would have to fight them. Not only to save the world, but my usual suspects...namely me, and anyone close to me.
"Johnny!" She scalded again.
I snapped from my thoughts. It had been a rough week for both of us, but on me, it was showing. On her...well, she just absorbed it like a sponge and brightened up anyway. She couldn't help it, it was her nature. Just like it was mine to worry. A lot.
"The Zombie King." I started.
She put a finger to my lips. Shook her head.
"He's not here."
Again she shook her head. "You don't have any comic books on you."
"I didn't last time he showed up in that Burger King with the huge slide that zombies kept spiraling around and popping out of, terrorizing the kids and parents there."
"What about the time they invaded that shopping mall? Was that also a fluke?"
"You had been in Barnes and Noble. Read a comic book."
I sighed in exasperation. "It doesn't even matter which one I read anymore. That bastard keeps on coming. He's like an Ever Ready battery, takes a beating and keeps on ticking."
"It's a dumb commercial with what they call an Energizer Bunny..."
She clapped her hands together. "I know him."
I gave her a look of dismay.
"What! That's impossible!"
She touched herself.
"Loud and clear." I acknowledged, knowing I was sitting across from Missus Impossibility herself.
"Anyway, there are commercials..."
"Oh, those funny things where men make love to their cars and trucks?"
I gave her a suspicious look. "They..."
She shook her head. "No they don't exist in my world."
I let out a breath of relief. "Anyway, there's this battery that is so powerful, that when this mechanical bunny uses it, he just keeps on working when all the other battery run toys stop."
"Sort of like you and me, sweetie." She pointed out.
I gave her a look that portrayed absolute hopelessness. She giggled and smiled. Game over. I was caught back into the dragnet of her love.
"Anything else for you two lovebirds?"
We looked up and Candy, a sweet-faced waitress, about forty years old, with three kids, a mortgage and working on a college degree to become a doctor, stood there her pad out to take orders.
"Nah." I responded.
I looked at Cartoon. She eyed the carousel menu which showed a flaming piece of gooey chocolate fudge cake, heaped with vanilla ice-cream. "One of those." I pointed at the object of her affection.
"On it." Candy said, and then bounced off like she usually did. I watched her walk off, until Cartoon grabbed my chin and turned me back to her.
"Is that how you treat your Queen?"
"You're not my princess!" I snapped back at her, angry for her intrusion on my thoughts.
She gave me a sharp look. "That's not what you tell me when..."
I put a finger to her lips. "I was just admiring how much energy that woman has after taking care of three kids, going to college three times, studying all day, and basically sleeping a few hours and that's it."
"Because I'm starting to fit into that same groove." I shrugged her hand from my face, and then scrubbed my eyes with a finger. They felt like sandpaper.
She gave me a gentle look, took my hand and kissed it. "I love you, Johnny."
"Ditto." I replied.
That was when all hell broke loose. When hadn't it lately?
We both jerked away from each other and looked towards the source of the commotion. It was a huge man. He had thrown his plate down on the floor, shattering it. Candy came running to pick it up. "I'll have this cleaned up in a minute, sir." She said warmly, not realizing he had done it on purpose.
The man said nothing as she worked, but he slowly turned his head and fixed his eyes on us. His eyes lit up like embers from a hot fire.
"Oh crap!" I muttered, angry at myself at that moment.
I looked at Cartoon. "It's the Devil."
"There's not such thing." She reminded me.
"Not in your world maybe, but here, he's got free rein most of the time."
"But he's not a cartoon."She insisted. Then she gave me a sharp look. "Where is it?"
I sighed and gave it up. A crumpled newspaper sheet with a page of cartoon strips.
"Johnny!" She sighed. "When will you learn?"
The man smiled at us, and his teeth were long and jagged. The back of him twitched and then a long tail with a sharp dagger like point came into view. He looked at Candy on the floor and smiled.
"Cartoon Man to the rescue." I said with a smirk, jumped up from my table, grabbed a salt shaker and ran at the Devil.
As I did his clothing burst into flames.
Candy screamed as the heat struck her. Customers knocked over tables and scrambled to all corners of the diner to get away from the impossibility standing in their midst. As I ran I grabbed more salt shakers.
By the time I reached the Devil, he had shaken off all resemblance to a mortal man, and assumed one of his more demonic forms. All teeth, claws, sharp tail and burnished red skin with glowing red eyes.
"You are mine, Johnny!" He screamed at me.
"Eat this!" I yelled at him, then twisted a bottle of salt's top off and flung it, then the next and the next, faster and faster, until my hands and arms swung like windmill blades.
The Devil screamed as the salt struck him, and began to hiss as if water had struck him. I didn't stop flinging. I stretched one hand out like gooey plastic and grabbed another salt shaker, hurtled to my free hand and kept tossing, until the Devil was impinged in a dozen places of his body by salt shakers and spilling salt.
"Arrrgh!" He screamed over and over, and then he exploded, hurtling chunks of fuming, stinky substance all over the diner.
People screamed in disgust as the matter hammered at them.
They weren't as close as me. It was Hammer Time for me.
When the smoke cleared, which was after a long and silent twenty seconds, Candy told me that later. Everyone came out from beneath their tables and from their hiding places and slowly began to clap as I stood there, a dripping monument to salted Devil. I blushed. I never liked the attention. And it usually didn't last. For some strange reason everyone always forgot what happened within ten minutes of every episode like this.
Cartoon told me it was the nature of our minds to shut off and shut down when faced with the impossible. I just think it was God's Grace looking out for me and everyone else, though I couldn't understand the part where He let all those monsters loose. Or maybe He didn't. It's too existential for my mind to handle, so I usually switch off. With a mind as big as a god's, I can't even begin to imagine how they think, or would think...though there are plenty of humans around who would like to tell you they do. You think?
Cartoon came over and slipped her hand into mine, gooey as it was.
"Let's go home. I feel all glowy after this." She said in that splendid warm voice of hers that blew away all my hormones and turned me into a tornado of love.
I looked into her bottomless eyes. Really, they were bottomless. A cartoon thing.
Hell might cloud my day once in awhile, but when I looked into those wonderful eyes of hers hell didn't have a chance.
"Come here, Dragon Slayer!" She said with a promising smile.
Who am I to argue with a Princess?